OLD Bar Barbarians pulled off the biggest upset of the Football Mid North Coast Premier League season so far when they beat league leaders Macleay Valley 1-0 in Kempsey.
The loss has almost effectively handed Wallis Lakes the minor premiership.
The sides were playing for the Coastline Credit Union Cup as they are the major sponsors of both clubs. The win also confirms that the Barbarians will be in the 2014 premier league competition, leaving Kempsey Saints, Wingham and Tuncurry-Forster to battle out last place to see who goes into the relegation game on September 21.
The game was a thriller to the end after the first half was showered with some very good football, but good scoring opportunities were few and far between as both sides defended with shear tenacity. In fact it would be a surprise if either goal keeper was required to make a full blooded save during the first 45 minutes. However things certainly heated up in the second half as the Rangers lifted the pace knowing that the minor premiership was up for grabs.
Continued pressure on the ball by the Barbarians right across the park forced the Rangers into mistake after mistake and the frustration was starting to show on the faces of the home team. With the scores still locked at 0-0 at the 70th minute mark the Barbarians attacked down the right hand side from the back. Cameron Brunton supplied a perfect ball to Toby Gallon who cut back inside to find Dave Wicks in open space, and as the defence surged from Wicks' left, he laid off a sublime ball for Steve Atchison to hit first time with his left foot from 20 metres that thundered into the top left hand corner, stunning the opposition and a 1-0 lead to the underdogs.
The final 20 minutes was full of anxious moments as the Rangers threw extra players forward in an effort to level the scores, however even with a series of corners that were well defended they could not breach the Barbarians defence.
The Barbarians had a further two chances to add to their score, the best being when Atchison again was on hand after some great lead up play, however his shot, from point blank range, was directed straight at the keeper. There was one last throw at the dice for Rangers in the last two minutes when their young striker beat the offisde trap, however Adam Lydiate was able to get enough of his hand on the ball to slow it down so that a desperate Jesse Gollan could clear it from the line with about six inches to spare. Barbarians coach Paul Ivers was delighted following the game.
"We played sensationally today,'' he enthused.
"We closed them down by keeping pressure on their ball players and not letting them get out of their defensive zone too easily, you have to be proud of that performance and to keep them scoreless at home. That's the first time since round two against Taree that they haven't scored in a match."
Toby Gollan was named the Saltwater Wine players' player after another great performance.